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Casino bans author of Word for being lucky

By Paul McNamara on Thu, 06/07/07 - 2:42pm.

Gambling is for suckers ... and I love it anyway.

But the truth of the first part is what makes this next part so unfathomable: The casino moguls at Harrah's Entertainment have barred Richard "Quiet Lion" Brodie - best known as the original author of Microsoft Word - from gambling in or entering any of its properties, including Caesar's Palace, home of the World Series of Poker.

(Update: All ends well.)

Brodie's crime?

No, he didn't cheat.

He's been too lucky.

Brodie explains on his blog:

On May 10, Harrah's sent certified letters to several high rollers informing them that their business was no longer wanted at Caesars Palace or any of the other Harrah's properties in Nevada, California, and Arizona. I was one of them. I called the office of Tom Jenkins, regional vice president, and got a call back from Terry Byrnes, the VP of customer service. He told me I was being 86ed because they couldn't figure out how to make a profit off me.

Now understand, the only games I play are poker and video poker. In poker, the house makes a 100% guaranteed profit straight off the top. In video poker, the house controls every aspect of the game: the pay tables, the amount of the house edge, and the promotions and incentives they offer. There is no way to use skill - or even cheat - to beat video poker. You can't count cards. You can't peek at the dealer's hole card. It's a machine. The best you could possibly hope for is to play computer-perfect, which I don't, and even if that were possible the machine still has a maximum theoretical payout chosen by the casino. The only thing the casino can't control is luck. One reason I like video poker is because you can get lucky and win. You hit a royal flush every 40,000 hands or so. If you're lucky enough to hit two, you're ahead! If you hit three, you're ahead for a long time!

Boy, have I been lucky at Harrah's.

I hit four huge royal flushes in the last year at three of the Las Vegas Harrah's properties. Not surprisingly, I'm ahead, although I've put 80% of it back. This seems to rub them the wrong way. But I have trouble imagining the thought process that would cause someone to decide that kicking out one of your most loyal customers is an appropriate solution to the problem of him having extremely good luck. If they think the machines are too loose, make them tighter. If they think they are giving me too much in comps, give less. They control every aspect of the game. Except luck. And kicking out players who have been lucky makes about as much sense as banning people from playing the lottery because they win it.

Doesn't make a lick of sense. Of course, it just goes to show that the private interests who control gambling in this country are every bit as unprincipled and hypocritical as the government interests who share that control.

You need to be a poker player to understand Brodie's anguish at being denied his seat at the World Series of Poker.

But you don't even need to be a gambler to understand the stupidity and injustice here.


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